Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Renault still needs to make more progress in order to take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari on every type of circuit.
Renault and Red Bull have had a strained relationship since the introduction of the V6 turbo power units in 2014, with new aerodynamic regulations last year only yielding two victories as the French engine still falls short of the performance level of Mercedes and Ferrari.
With last weekend’s Australian largely defined by qualifying position due to the difficulty overtaking in the race, Horner says gains need to be made on the power unit front to give Red Bull a better chance on Saturdays.
“It’s extenuated [in Melbourne],” Horner said. “Bahrain you can overtake, China you can overtake. But it exposes you. You’ve only got to look at the speed trap where all the Renault engines were grouped together with varying amounts of downforce on the car, so that’s where we need to make progress.”
Asked if any of that progress was coming soon, Horner replied: “There are bits in the pipeline. That’s more of a question for Renault than for me because they’re obviously not divulging everything they’re up to, but it’s certainly something we’re pushing for. Alternatively, one could say perhaps you should have the same engine mode, like in parc ferme when the cars leave for qualifying – maybe engine modes should be the same from the moment you leave the garage from the end of the grand prix.”
Red Bull showed strong race pace as Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest lap while stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen (pictured), and Horner says the team will work on its own weaknesses while hoping for an improvement to one-lap engine performance.
“I think we have some good information. We know we have a good race car, the negative for us is still the deficit in qualifying. The ‘party mode’… we’d like to go to Lewis’ party…
“We will just work on all the things, [taking] the feedback from the drivers, and work on the handling characteristics that we want to improve on.”